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Half a century of nursing in Bourke

Donna Morris, Yuka Rose, Brandhee-Leigh Lovett, Denise Stalley, Kelly Lienesch, Ashleigh Hull and Maria Warren on Denise’s last day at work in the health industry after half a century of care and compassion for the Bourke community. Congratulation on a job inspiringly well done Denise! Photo contributed

Last Wednesday, long-serving local nurse Denise Stalley popped her watch in her pocket for the last time and called an end to a remarkable career of 54 years in nursing.

It was a bittersweet time for Denise, who says she is still going to be busy visiting family and making time do the tourist thing around this great country of ours.

Apart from her day job nursing, Denise is directly involved in tourism as the proprietor of the Mount Oxley visitor site, and she says she is looking forward to being able to put more time into the maintenance and growth of the popular tourism destination.

Denise says she won’t be slowing up, she just won’t have to come to town to work and it will all be unpaid.

Commencing her career in nursing as an Assistant In Nursing (AIN) in Bourke back in 1967, Denise had no formal training.

“I was a terrified 16-year-old at the time. I remember being frightened of the ward sisters, and the staff who were older than me.

“Cookie Tully was my mentor and she showed me the ropes. She was a beautiful person and a competent and confident nurse.

“At that time Bourke was very vibrant. There were many businesses in town, and things were flourishing.

“The hospital probably only had two doctors, but they did everything. Patients were treated at the hospital and no one was ever flown out.

Denise recalls the hospital as being a big operation back then, employing a lot of people and always being surrounded by staff.

“We had plenty of staff, lots of cooks, cleaners, and they were all local people.

“I think we maybe only had one wardsman back then. We had a boilermaker Harry Menzies, I remember. He used to stoke up the boiler just so we had hot water.

“We had magnificent gardens and a massive citrus orchard.

“There was a big nurse’s homestead which was well used. We had sisters come in and stay, Lynn O’Malley and Diana Gaynor, were a couple of ladies who both married local graziers.

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